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Statement from California’s Department of Public Health and Emergency Management Agency on Risk of Radiation Exposure

by on March 16, 2011

*The following news release was issued by Cal EMA on Tuesday, March 15, 2011.*

SACRAMENTO – Today the interim director of the California Department of Public Health, Dr. Howard Backer, and acting secretary of the California Emergency Management Agency, Mike Dayton, issued the following statement emphasizing Californians’ safety from radiation exposure and the risks of taking potassium iodide as a precautionary measure.

“The safety of all Californians is our highest priority, and we are in constant contact with the federal agencies responsible for monitoring radiation levels across the West Coast.

We want to emphasize that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services have all stated that there is no risk expected to California or its residents as a result of the situation in Japan.

We are actively monitoring the situation in Japan and are ready to take all steps necessary to protect Californians should risks develop.

We urge Californians to not take potassium iodide as a precautionary measure. It is not necessary given the current circumstances in Japan, it can present a danger to people with allergies to iodine, shellfish or who have thyroid problems, and taken inappropriately it can have serious side effects including abnormal heart rhythms, nausea, vomiting, electrolyte abnormalities and bleeding.

Our thoughts are with the people of Japan at this tragic time.”

Californians with questions about radiation exposure can contact the California Department of Public Health’s Emergency Operations information line at 916 341-3947.

For updated information on monitoring, response and relief efforts in California and Japan, please visit the California Emergency Management Agency website at


From → Press Releases

  1. Lyndon Comstock permalink

    Data tracking please!

    What we need in this situation is not an endless stream of statements that there’s nothing to worry about, with no facts or data attached to them or referenced.

    What is needed is public release of actual radiation monitoring information. So far I’m unable to find any place where that’s available. If you know of such a place, please let the public know.

    If you don’t know of any radiation monitoring information, then what are you basing your statements on?

  2. Ralph Wolf permalink

    Knowledge is power. I appreciate that there is a great deal of ambiguity in the raw data, but there is even more ambiguity in blanket assurances that everything is fine.

    With all due respect, please have some respect for the collective intelligence of your employers, the citizens & taxpayers of california.

    Please post real time radiation levels from the various monitors around the state, together with their locations and historical background data from those same monitors.

    Have you seen these models?

    They suggest the attenuation in radiation intensity from the source to the california coast is only 2-3 orders of magnitude. Ordinarily that would be fine, but with radiation levels as high as 400 mSv/hr at the source (and the crisis is by no means resolved) I am NOT satisfied by blanket assurances.

    For what it’s worth, I have a degree in physics from Caltech and worked for a time on particle physics experiments at SLAC. I’d like to see the numbers and can handle the truth….

    I fully appreciate that a statistically significant increase is not the same thing as a medically significant increase. I still want to see the numbers!

  3. Kurt R. permalink


  4. Gregory permalink

    U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services have all stated that there is no risk expected to California or its residents as a result of the situation in Japan.

    Since this statement was made I want to see the references sited that EPA, NRC DSHS used in determining there will be no risk. A statement of NO Risk of what?

    What is the estimated increase in radiation compared to the background readings at all monitoring stations in California?

    I have spent the last 23 years working in and around nuclear facilities and want to understand the science behind these statements.

    Please furnish with any information you can send or links so that I may analyze the data used to come to this conclusion.


    Gregory Lee MS,EHS

  5. Tina Szpila permalink

    Our doctor told us that the potassium iodine pills take 48 hours to begin working. How can that be helpful?

  6. I think this is what you watn. Click on the various monitoring stations for data plots:

  7. Brian Grever permalink

    Simple press releases from various agancies, that read, ” we have nothing to worry about” does not assure me if my safety from radiation exposure (As a result of the nuclear plants in japan). We aleady know that, air pollution from china, finds its way to the U.S. via the atmosphere.

    I’ve heard some reports that, the levels of radiation detected are tantamount to 1/10 of a body x ray or something like that. But what the authorities don’t explain, is what is the collective exposure levels in a full day?. For example, if we’re being exposed to 1/10 per hour, then, that means, every ten hours, we are being exposed to in effect, a full body x-rays worth of radiation.

    Another issue, is that, while there may not be emergency level radiation in the atmosphere yet, that doesn’t mean that, in the future there will not be extrememly high levels of radiation, sufficient to require iodide pills as protection.

    With the winds blowing in an easterly direction, it will only take 5 days for any radiation to reach the shores of The U.S. pacific coast.

    If the nuclear reactors in Japan, have a full meltdown, thereby releasing massive amounts of radioactive isotopes into the atmosphere, and with it only taking 5 days to reach the U.S., will citizens on the U.S. west coast have quick access to iodide pills? The authorities are not saying whether, in the case of a real emergency, whether local govt. will have sufficient amounts of pills to distribute to the general public. And secondly, if people try to buy pills directly from the two manufacturers of iodide pills, will they get them in time before the radioactive clouds reach our geographic location?

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